The Acting Company’s “Fantastic Journeys & the Studio Museum in Harlem’s annual spring luncheon

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Amunet Jones addresses the crowd at the Studio Museum in Harlem's annual spring luncheon.

On Friday, May 10, the Studio Museum in Harlem welcomed more than 350 cultural leaders, art world luminaries, representatives of major media networks, business leaders and philanthropists to its annual spring luncheon.

This year’s luncheon honored Marva Smalls, Executive Vice President, Global Head of Inclusion Strategy for Paramount, and Executive Vice President of Public Affairs for the Nickelodeon Group, who has dedicated herself to advancing diversity, equity, and inclusion across the media and entertainment industry. The annual luncheon celebrates and supports the Studio Museum’s education programs, including its signature teen program, Expanding the Walls, which explores photography through the lens of Harlem’s rich history.

The program included remarks by Thelma Golden, Director and Chief Curator; Marva Smalls; and Amunet Jones, a current Expanding the Walls participant.


Amunet Jones, Thelma Golden
Amunet Jones and Thelma Golden.

“Marva Smalls is a cherished member of the Studio Museum’s community,” Thelma Golden said. “On this occasion dedicated to our work in education, we honor Marva for an extraordinary career of creating opportunities for young people, empowering children and youth, and forging collaborations that improve people’s lives through the media. Always ready to move beyond what others think is possible, Marva’s career serves as a benchmark across industries for what’s possible in this world.”


Marva Smalls and Thelma Golden.

Guests included THELMA GOLDEN, Director and Chief Curator, honored MARVA SMALLS, EVP, Global Head of Inclusion, Paramount, and EVP, Public Affairs, Nickelodeon Group; and welcomed J’NELLE AGEE, Executive Director, Editorial, EBONY; ISOLDE BRIELMAIER, Deputy Director, New Museum; TONYA LEWIS LEE, Film Producer; LORNA SIMPSON, Artist; CRYSTAL MCCRARY MCGUIRE; ANNETTE MITCHELL-SCOTT, Executive, ABC; MING SMITH, Photographer; SAMIRA NASR, Editor in Chief, Harper’s Bazaar; LINDSAY PEOPLES, Editor in Chief, The Cut; LYNN WHITFIELD, Actress; EBONY L. HAYNES, Artist; AL ROKER, Co-Host, TODAY Show and DEBORAH ROBERTS, TV personality, ABC; NINA DEL RIO, Vice Chairman, Sotheby’s Advisory; VANESSA WILLIAMS, Actress; MICHELLE EBANKS, President and CEO, The Apollo; SANDRA JACKSON-DUMONT, Director and CEO, Lucas Museum of Narrative Art; GLENN D. LOWRY, Director, Museum of Modern Art. Members of the Studio Museum’s Board of Trustees were also present, including CAROL SUTTON LEWIS; LAURA DAY BAKER; KATHRYN CHENAULT; JOAN S. DAVISDON; DR. AMELIA OGUNLESI; VICTORIA ROGERS; and LISE WILKS, among many others.


Ally Caple, Amunet Jones, Thelma Golden, Miriam Bishop
Ally Caple, Amunet Jones, Thelma Golden, and Miriam Bishop.

Founded in 1968 by a diverse group of artists, community activists, and philanthropists, the Studio Museum in Harlem is internationally known for its catalytic role in promoting the work of artists of African descent. The Studio Museum is now constructing a new home, designed by Adjaye Associates in collaboration with Cooper Robertson, at its longtime location on Manhattan’s West 125th Street. The building—the first created expressly for the institution’s program—will enable the Studio Museum to better serve a growing and diverse audience, provide additional educational opportunities for people of all ages, expand its program of world-renowned exhibitions, effectively display its singular collection, and strengthen its trailblazing Artist-in-Residence program.

For more information, visit studiomuseum.org.


Al Roker, Marva Smalls, and Deborah Roberts.
Mingus Murray, Ming Smith, Victoria Rodgers
Mingus Murray, Ming Smith, and Victoria Rodgers.
Tonya Lewis Lee, Lynn Whitfield, Vanessa Williams
Tonya Lewis Lee, Lynn Whitfield, and Vanessa Williams.
Caption/Description: Crystal McCrary, Aisha McShaw, Annette Mitchell Scott
Crystal McCrary, Aisha McShaw, and Annette Mitchell Scott.
Megan Hogan and friends.
Megan Hogan and friends.
Caption/Description: Paulettta Washington, Marva Smalls, Deborah Roberts
Paulettta Washington, Marva Smalls, and Deborah Roberts.
Caption/Description: Courtney Willis Blair, Courtney J. Martin, Sukanya Rajaratnam
Courtney Willis Blair, Courtney J. Martin, Sukanya Rajaratnam, and Carol Finley.
Jerri L. Devard, Marva Smalls, Deborah Roberts, Angela Vallot
Jerri L. Devard, Marva Smalls, Deborah Roberts, and Angela Vallot.
Caption/Description: Malaak Compton-Rock, Lynn Whitfield, Eula Smith
Malaak Compton-Rock, Lynn Whitfield, and Eula Smith.
Eboni K. Williams, LJ Louis
Eboni K. Williams and LJ Louis.
Caption/Description:
Tonya Lewis Lee and Vanessa Williams.
Caption/Description: Jeanne Greenberg, Tracey Riese, Kathryn Chenault
Jeanne Greenberg, Tracey Riese, and Kathryn Chenault.
Laura Day Baker, Anne-Cecilie Engell Speyer, and Beatrice Vestberg.
Meera Joshi, Pauletta Washington, Gwen Adolph, Marva Smalls, Deborah Roberts, Jerri L. DeVard, Nina Cooper, Angela Vallot, and Sharon Bowen.

The Acting Company awarded Stephen McKinley Henderson the John Houseman Award Honor, and William H. Wright II the Joan M. Warburg Award Honor, as part of The Acting Company’s “Fantastic Journeys” Gala on Monday, April 29.

Notable guests included Patti LuPone, Kenny Leon, Richard Kind, John Douglas Thompson, Lorraine Toussaint, Julie White, Artistic Director Kent Gash, Roslyn Ruff, Dakin Matthews, Dana Ivey, and Margot Harley.


Honoree Stephen McKinley Henderson, wife Pamela Reed Henderson, and their son Jamal Henderson
Honoree Stephen McKinley Henderson, wife Pamela Reed Henderson, and their son Jamal Henderson.
James Kelliher, Honoree William H Wright II, and Allen Greenburg.

The evening included performances from Abby Mueller (Broadway’s SIX, Beautiful, Kinky Boots) and Tatiana Wechsler (Broadway’s Mr. Saturday Night) along with Anya Whelan-Smith, Layla Khoshnoudi, Abiola Obatolu, and Zamo Mlengana (all from the company of TAC’s world premiere of Odyssey, written and directed by Lisa Peterson with original songs by Masi Asare); and Peter Douskalis (guitarist for Broadway’s Water for Elephants, The Lion King and Hamilton).

The one-night-only event, held at 583 Park Avenue, celebrated more than a half a century of The Acting Company developing emerging actors by bringing classics and new plays across the US on fantastic journeys that have changed the American cultural landscape. Julie White was the evening’s host that included cocktails, a gourmet dinner, and a silent action. The evening concluded with lively music and dancing.


Emcee Julie White and Honoree Stephen McKinley Henderson
Emcee Julie White and Honoree Stephen McKinley Henderson.

The Acting Company brings professional productions and education programs, in-school residencies, and teacher training workshops to thousands of audience members and students in underserved communities and schools each year.

Founded by John Houseman and Margot Harley, the company seeks to develop emerging actors and build enthusiastic, knowledgeable audiences for the theater in towns across the United States. The Acting Company launched the careers of nearly 500 actors, including Kevin Kline, Patti LuPone, Mary Lou Rosato, Keith David, Rainn Wilson, Lorraine Toussaint, Frances Conroy, Harriet Harris, Lisa Banes, Jeffrey Wright, Hamish Linklater, Jesse L. Martin, Roslyn Ruff, Jimonn Cole, and Kelley Curran.


Founder Margot Harley and Beka Vučo
Founder Margot Harley and Beka Vučo.

Since 1972, The Acting Company has performed for over 4 million people in 48 States, 10 foreign countries, on and Off-Broadway, and at leading resident theaters including The Guthrie and The Kennedy Center. New works commissioned by the company include plays by William Finn, Marcus Gardley, Rebecca Gilman, John Guare, Beth Henley, Tony Kushner, Lynn Nottage, Meg Miroshnik, Ntozake Shange, Maria Irene Fornés, Spalding Gray, Marsha Norman, Charles Smith, Samm-Art Williams, and Wendy Wasserstein.

To learn more, visit theactingcompany.org


Honoree Stephen McKinley Henderson and Four-Time Tony Award-winning Director Kenny Leon.
Richard Kind, Event Co-Chairs Tejal Wadhwani and Tim Saunder, and Ty Jones
Richard Kind, Event Co-Chairs Tejal Wadhwani and Tim Saunder, and Ty Jones.
Carl Cofield, Artistic Director Kent Gash, John Doulgas Thompson
Carl Cofield, Artistic Director Kent Gash, and John Douglas Thompson.
Angela Boughman Eric Falkensetin Ty Jones John Douglas Thompson Erik Schroeder
Angela Boughman, Eric Falkensetin, Ty Jones, John Douglas Thompson, and Erik Schroeder.
William H Wright II, Lisa Genova, James Kelliher
Honoree William H Wright II, Lisa Genova, and James Kelliher.
Keith Randolph Smith Nina O'Keefe Eric Falkenstein
Keith Randolph Smith, Nina O’Keefe, and Eric Falkenstein.
Board Member Lori-Anne Wynter, Event Committee Member Louis Rodriguez, and Marc Leavitt
Board Member Lori-Anne Wynter, Event Committee Member Louis Rodriguez, and Marc Leavitt.
Founder Margot Harley, John Doulgas Thompson, and Event Committee Member Roslyn Ruff
Founder Margot Harley, John Douglas Thompson, and Event Committee Member Roslyn Ruff.
Honoree Stephen McKinley Henderson and Lorraine Toussaint
Honoree Stephen McKinley Henderson and Lorraine Toussaint.
Richard Kind and Director Playwright Lisa Peterson
Richard Kind and Director Playwright Lisa Peterson.
Honoree Stephen McKinley Henderson and Eric Falkenstein
Honoree Stephen McKinley Henderson and Eric Falkenstein.
Stephen McKinley Henderson, Founding Company Member Patti LuPone, Matthew Johnston
Stephen McKinley Henderson, Founding Company Member Patti LuPone, and Matthew Johnston.
Angela Pierce and Erik Schroeder.
Aasha, Tejal and Prakash Wadhwani
Aasha, Tejal, and Prakash Wadhwani.

Photographs by Lia Chang (Acting Company); Bre Johnson/BFA.com (Studio Museum)

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